Temperatures plunge in Thailand's North and Northeast

In Phimai district in Nakhon Ratchasima, which recorded the lowest temperature yesterday of 14 degrees Celsius, locals were braced for the "coldest winter in six years" and the disaster prevention office set up an aid centre for victims of the cold in 32 affected areas.

Phimai residents woke to frost and visibility was poor at only 10-20 metres, due to fog.

Nakhon Ratchasima weather station |chief Sa-ngad Saimai said the chilly 14-16C weather would last till the year's end with |thick morning fog in mountainous districts |such as Wang Nam Khieo, Khon Buri, and Pak Chong.

Another strong cold mass in the second week of January was expected to bring temperatures of 11-12 degrees, he said noting that it would be the coldest for six years. The coldest day in Nakhon Ratchasima was 4.9 degrees Celsius on January 12, 1955.

Meanwhile, Kalasin governor Suwit Subongkot also instructed officials to set up a centre to aid victims of the cold weather, as |areas near Phu Phan Mountain Range reported temperatures of 7-10 degrees, the lowest in decades. Kalasin's 300,000 residents were |also in need of warm clothing in the wake of |temperatures falling to 10-14C.

Up North, Chiang Mai Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office head Phatthanida Sadudee yesterday asked the provincial governor to declare 25 districts as cold weather disaster zones as the temperature dropped below 15C |for three consecutive days.

Meanwhile, Public Health Ministry yesterday warned residents hit by the cold spell to beware of pneumonia over winter, as this year has seen a total of 175,221 patients with the disease - 991 of whom died.

The pneumonia could be found mostly |among children under 5 and those aged over 55. Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Narong Sahametapat, urged those suffered from high fever over three days with coughing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and green-coloured mucus to see doctors immediately.